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The state government's plans to create new high-density suburbs out of the bones of Sydney's former Olympic precinct were always going to prompt concerns about transport access and a lack of affordable housing.
But those plans also have bureaucrats wondering what all the new residents will be able to drink.
In October, Sports Minister Stuart Ayres and the former planning minister, Rob Stokes, said the government would plan for another 10,000 homes to be built at Sydney's Olympic Park.
Those homes, in apartment blocks up to 45 storeys high, would be built in a part of the city undergoing an astonishing rate of change.
Nearby at Lidcombe's Carter Street, for instance, there are plans for another 5500 new homes over the next 20 years. Toward the Parramatta River, at Wentworth Point, more than 2000 homes are already either built or under development.
But the tenor of many of the submissions to the proposal raise a host of logistical questions about how the area will be able to accommodate tens of thousands of new residents over the next couple of decades, alongside its more recent sporting and event uses.
"We are concerned that there is no plan for heavy rail improvements to the precinct," the NRL's head of strategy, Andrew Fraser, wrote in a submission on the Olympic Park plans.
"We feel that the simplest and quickest option would be a rework of the train timetable to permanently provide direct Sydney Olympic Park services, not just on major event days," Mr Fraser's submission said.
The transport concerns were common to most submissions on the proposal. After creating an expectation it would build a light rail line through Olympic Park, the state government has since stalled on an announcement of those plans.
It has instead said it would build a metro rail line between Parramatta and central Sydney, which would include a stop around Olympic Park. But that line remains a decade or so away, and has no funding attached.
A coalition of faith-based groups, charities and housing organisations, writing under the umbrella of the Sydney Alliance, highlighted the lack of affordable housing in the proposals.
Under Premier Gladys Berejiklian, the state government has declared housing affordability its primary focus. But at Olympic Park, where much of the land is government-owned, it has committed only 3 per cent of the total dwellings of the site to be "affordable," or available at below-market rents.
"The 3 per cent requirement is not tenable," the Sydney Alliance said.
The Alliance said the affordable housing component on government-owned land should be 30 per cent.
"Based on a projected number of dwellings of 10,700 … a requirement of 30 per cent would deliver some 3200 affordable-rental housing dwellings," it said.
Other organisations questioned the increased emphasis on residential development, at the expense of commercial.
There is a reduction in the amount of overall office space slated around Olympic Park, as compared to previous plans for the area.
"This is a missed opportunity on a whole range of fronts," Daryl Kerry, the managing director of VenuesLive, which manages ANZ Stadium, wrote in his submission.
"It's not entirely clear what Sydney Olympic Park is trying to be," the submission said.
Mr Kerry's comments were echoed by real estate company Dexus, which owns two buildings at Olympic Park, to be vacated by the Commonwealth Bank.
Dexus commented on the overall design of the precinct, which was created for the teeming crowds of the Sydney Olympics, but which looks spare when not filled by thousands heading to an event.
"The aspiration of the masterplan to achieve activation is supported," Dexus said. "However, 'activation' and 'vastness' typically don't go together, and [Sydney Olympic Park] is vast."
Sydney Water, meanwhile, has raised a fundamental concern.
"Sydney Water recently undertook a strategic-level planning investigation for water services within the Greater Parramatta to Olympic Peninsula urban renewal corridor," the agency said.
This work was based on an assumption of 8000 dwellings in the area, though the government is planning at least 2000 more than that.
"Our investigation indicates that the existing drinking water and waste water systems do not have sufficient capacity to cater for all future growth in the urban renewal corridor," Sydney Water said.
"Further investigations will be required."
In an emailed statement, Mr Ayres said the second stage of the Parramatta light rail project was being planned alongside the Sydney Metro project while WestConnex was being delivered - "a truly integrated transport network."
"Of the 10,700 proposed new residences, 804 have been completed, 977 are under construction and several hundred more are in planning," Mr Ayres said.
He said the current review of the Sydney Olympic Park 2030 Master Plan was still being finalised in conjunction with other government agencies.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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